From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Humour is the ability or quality of people, objects, or situations to evoke feelings of amusement in other people. The term encompasses a form of entertainment or human communication which evokes such feelings, or which makes people laugh or feel happy.
Central to this wiki is the notion of black humour.
The term derives from the humoral medicine of the ancient Greeks, which stated that a mix of fluids known as humours (Greek: χυμός, chymos, literally juice or sap; metaphorically, flavour) controlled human health and emotion.
A sense of humour
A sense of humour is the ability to experience humour, although the extent to which an individual will find something humorous depends on a host of variables, including geographical location, culture, maturity, level of education, intelligence, and context. For example, young children may possibly favour slapstick, such as Punch and Judy puppet shows or cartoons (e.g., Tom and Jerry). Satire may rely more on understanding the target of the humour, and thus tends to appeal to more mature audiences.
Some claim that humour cannot or should not be explained. Author E.B. White once said, "Humor can be dissected as a frog can, but the thing dies in the process and the innards are discouraging to any but the pure scientific mind."
Arthur Schopenhauer lamented the misuse of the term "humour" (a German loanword from English) to mean any type of comedy. However, both "humour" and "comic" are often used when theorising about the subject. The connotations of "humour" as opposed to "comic" are said to be that of response versus stimulus. Additionally, "humour" was thought to include a combination of ridiculousness and wit in an individual; the paradigmatic case being Shakespeare's Sir John Falstaff. The French were slow to adopt the term "humour"; in French, "humeur" and "humour" are still two different words, the former referring to a person's mood or to the archaic concept of the four humours.
Nonsatirical humour can be specifically termed "recreational drollery".
Western humour theory begins with Plato, who attributed to Socrates (as a semihistorical dialogue character) in the Philebus (p. 49b) the view that the essence of the ridiculous is an ignorance in the weak, who are thus unable to retaliate when ridiculed. Later, in Greek philosophy, Aristotle, in the Poetics (1449a, pp. 34–35), suggested that an ugliness that does not disgust is fundamental to humour.
In ancient Sanskrit drama, Bharata Muni's Natya Shastra defined humour (hāsyam) as one of the nine nava rasas, or principle rasas (emotional responses), which can be inspired in the audience by bhavas, the imitations of emotions that the actors perform. Each rasa was associated with a specific bhavas portrayed on stage. In the case of humour, it was associated with mirth (hasya).
The terms "comedy" and "satire" became synonymous after Aristotle's Poetics was translated into Arabic in the medieval Islamic world, where it was elaborated upon by Arabic writers and Islamic philosophers such as Abu Bischr, his pupil Al-Farabi, Avicenna, and Averroes. Due to cultural differences, they disassociated comedy from Greek dramatic representation, and instead identified it with Arabic poetic themes and forms, such as hija (satirical poetry). They viewed comedy as simply the "art of reprehension" and made no reference to light and cheerful events or troublous beginnings and happy endings associated with classical Greek comedy. After the Latin translations of the 12th century, the term "comedy" thus gained a new semantic meaning in Medieval literature.
As with any form of art, acceptance depends on social demographics and varies from person to person. Throughout history, comedy has been used as a form of entertainment all over the world, whether in the courts of the Western kings or the villages of the Far East. Both a social etiquette and a certain intelligence can be displayed through forms of wit and sarcasm. Eighteenth-century German author Georg Lichtenberg said that "the more you know humour, the more you become demanding in fineness."
Evolution of humour
As with any form of art, the same goes for humour: acceptance depends on social demographics and varies from person to person. Throughout history, comedy has been used as a form of entertainment all over the world, whether in the courts of the Western kings or the villages of the Far East. Both a social etiquette and a certain intelligence can be displayed through forms of wit and sarcasm. Eighteenth-century German author Georg Lichtenberg said that "the more you know humour, the more you become demanding in fineness."
Alastair Clarke explains: "The theory is an evolutionary and cognitive explanation of how and why any individual finds anything funny. Effectively, it explains that humour occurs when the brain recognizes a pattern that surprises it, and that recognition of this sort is rewarded with the experience of the humorous response, an element of which is broadcast as laughter." The theory further identifies the importance of pattern recognition in human evolution: "An ability to recognize patterns instantly and unconsciously has proved a fundamental weapon in the cognitive arsenal of human beings. The humorous reward has encouraged the development of such faculties, leading to the unique perceptual and intellectual abilities of our species."
- appealing to feelings or to emotions.
- similar to reality, but not real.
- some surprise/misdirection, contradiction, ambiguity, or paradox.
- By behaving in an unusual way
- By being in an unusual place
- By being the wrong size
Most sight gags fit into one or more of these categories.
Humour is also sometimes described as an ingredient in spiritual life. Humour is also the act of being funny. Some synonyms of funny or humour are hilarious, knee-slapping, spiritual, wise-minded, outgoing, and amusing. Some Masters have added it to their teachings in various forms. A famous figure in spiritual humour is the laughing Buddha.
- amusement - black comedy - burlesque - caricature - comedy - fool - funny - entertainment - irony - joke - laughter - parody - ribaldry - ridicule - satire - send-up - spoof
- Comedy and Comedians
- Computational humour
- Gelotology, the study of laughing and laughter
- Humor research
- Internet humour
- Laughter in literature
- List of humorists
- List of publications in humour research
- Surreal humour
- Theories of humor
- Unintentional humor
Wit and humor characters
Humour and culture
Different cultures have different expectations of humour so comedy shows are not always successful when transplanted into another culture. Two well-known sayings in Britain are "Americans don't do irony" and Germans have no sense of humour. Whether these sayings have any validity has been discussed on a BBC webpage.
- Anthology of Black Humor (1940) - André Breton
- Rationale of the Dirty Joke: An Analysis of Sexual Humor a 1968 book by Gershon Legman
- Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious (1905) by Sigmund Freud
- Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic (1901) by Henri Bergson
- Motif-Index of Folk-Literature
- List of publications in humor research
- A History of Derision
- Le Rire de résistance